Student visa requirements for the US
Applying for a US student visa? Here’s help!
The United States is an attractive destination for international students who seek high-quality education and exposure to diverse cultures. It offers access to prestigious universities, state-of-the-art research facilities, and a wide range of academic programs. Studying in the US provides a unique and enriching experience, with opportunities for career advancement and personal development, thanks to its vibrant economy, cultural diversity, and breathtaking natural landscapes.
To study in the US, Indian students must obtain a student visa as a mandatory requirement. The specific visa you need will depend on your age and the type of study program you intend to pursue. Here is a general overview of the various study visas available and the application requirements associated with them.
Here’s an overview of the types of US student visas and their application requirements:
The US Government offers three different student visa types:
|Types of student visa
F-1 Student Visa
to study at an accredited US college or university or to study English at an English language institute
J Exchange Visa
for participation in an exchange program, including high school and university study
M Student Visa
for non-academic or vocational study or training in the US
*For detailed information, please refer to the official website of the US Department of State.
The initial step in obtaining a US student visa is to apply and gain acceptance from a certified US school or university that is part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Once accepted, you will receive a Form I-20 from the institution’s international student office, which contains your information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) database.
When applying for a US student visa, you will generally need the following documents:
- A valid passport with a minimum validity of six months beyond your intended stay in the US (unless exempted by country-specific agreements).
- Acceptance at a SEVP-approved school and your Form I-20.
- Payment of the SEVIS application fee.
- Completion of the non-immigrant visa application and the confirmation page of Form DS-160.
- A recent photograph that meets the specified requirements.
- If you are applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you will also need to apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Additional documents that may be required include:
- Academic records such as transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates.
- Proof of sufficient funds to cover your living expenses during your stay in the US, which can include bank statements, sponsorship letters, or evidence of a scholarship program.
- Evidence of plans to depart the US after completing your course of study, such as an air ticket to your home country.
Please note that you may also be required to attend a personal interview at the US embassy or consulate.
*Please be aware that these are general requirements, and it is advisable to consult with your Urvi Technologies counselor for a comprehensive list of documents needed for the visa application process
F-1 Student visa
Most students who wish to pursue their studies overseas opt for the F-1 Student Visa. There are three major steps to its procedure, being:The US Government offers three different student visa types:
SEVIS fee and I-20 form collection
Once you pay the SEVIS fee, you are given an I-20 form from your new school or college. Duly fill out the form and bring it along for your F-1 interview.
VISA fee and form collection
Pay your visa fee at the designated bank or NEFT and collect the visa form. Duly fill out the form and bring it along for your interview.
Duly fill out the D-160 form and submit the confirmation along with the documents for the visa interview.
You will be contacted by the US embassy to return the stamped passport. You can appear before the visa officer for an interview 120 days before the start of your program. *if you are a previous visa holder, you may be eligible for a visa interview waiver.
P.S: You can move to the US only 30 days before the start date of your program.
Applying for your US student visa online
To apply for your student visa, you will need to complete the online application through the US Embassy and Consulates India website. It is recommended to submit your application up to 120 days prior to the start date of your intended program. As part of the application process, you will need to pay the required visa fee and SEVIS fee. The visa fee is necessary to schedule your appointment, while the SEVIS fee is required to complete your visa documents. Make sure to follow the instructions provided and submit all the necessary documents within the specified timeframe.
How can Urvi Technologies help with visa applications?
If you are a student affiliated with Urvi Technologies and have received an offer letter from any of our partner universities in the US, we are here to assist you throughout the entire visa application process. Our experienced team can provide you with comprehensive guidance on the latest visa requirements and conditions, as well as help you prepare the necessary documents for submission.
We will direct you to the official websites and authorized immigration representatives, ensuring that you have access to the most up-to-date application forms and guidance. To simplify the process, we can also assist with document certification, translation, and courier services, minimizing any potential hassles along the way. You can rely on our expertise and support to navigate through the visa application procedure smoothly.
US student visa fee
As an international applicant, you will be required to pay an application visa fee of US$160 (please check the latest fee when submitting your application). Additionally, there is a SEVIS fee of US$350 for F and M visa applications, and US$220 for most J visa applications. The SEVIS fee covers the cost of the computer system used to record your stay in the United States.
For more information on financing your education in the USA, you can refer to our article on the topic.
English language requirements for US student visa
To obtain a student visa for the US, you must demonstrate proficiency in the English language, typically by taking an approved English language test.
One widely recognized test is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which is accepted by over 11,000 organizations worldwide. US educational institutions generally require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 bands.
Upon arriving in the US, it is important to take the following steps:
- Contact your designated school official promptly.
- Reconnect with your designated school official before the program start date mentioned on your Form I-20.
To maintain the validity of your student visa, you must:
- Fulfill the purpose for which the visa was issued by the Department of State.
- Comply with the regulations associated with that purpose.
During your studies in the US, it is essential to adhere to the following rules:
- Attend and pass all of your classes. If you encounter difficulties, promptly communicate with your designated school official (DSO).
- If you anticipate being unable to complete your program by the end date specified on your Form I-20, consult your DSO regarding the possibility of requesting a program extension.
- Enroll in a full course of study each term. If you are unable to study full-time, inform your DSO immediately.
- Do not drop below a full course of study without consulting your DSO.
If you need assistance with the visa application process, our international education experts are available to provide guidance.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
International students who are not US citizens or permanent residents and intend to study in the US for more than 18 hours per week must obtain a student visa.
Students holding an F-1 visa are permitted to work on-campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the academic year, and up to 40 hours per week during school breaks. Off-campus employment, on the other hand, necessitates additional authorization.
As long as you maintain full-time enrollment and adhere to the terms of your visa, you are permitted to stay in the US on a student visa for the duration of your academic program.
While on a student visa, it is possible to travel outside the US. However, it is important to have a valid visa and an unexpired passport for re-entry into the US. Prior to departure, you may also need to obtain a travel signature from your school’s Designated School Official (DSO).